For many, classical music and rock are like oil and water. Classical is fuddy duddy, rock speaks to the present. Roll over, Beethoven, as Chuck Berry expressed it. This view is wrong, of course. There are plenty of classical influence in rock – the orchestrations on Beatles tracks for a start – and rock music is no longer the dominant youth music.
There was a time when rock was seen as a threat to society. Nowadays, there might be objections to lyrics and antics, but popular music is no longer seen as inherently dangerous. One sign of this change is the full orchestra versions of rock songs which started to appear in the 1970s. This 2016 video is a great example of orchestrated rock.
With 15m views on YouTube, the above orchestration of three well sequenced Iron Maiden's songs is the most viewed video by Epic Symphonic Rock. Peruvian guitarist Micky Tejada is the driving force behind Epic Symphonic Rock, which is a collaboration between Tejada on electric guitar (often backed by a full rock band, as featured to great effect in the Iron Maiden medley) and Symphonic Orchestra of Chancay, a youth orchestra from Lima province.
Micky Tejada does all of the orchestration for the project, which is in it's sixth year. Tejada favours orchestrations of metal or heavy rock – Iron Maiden, Metallica, Guns and Roses, Led Zeppelin, System of A Down, and Queen. Tejada is a gifted orchestrator and arranger. The way he plays off the tension between melodious orchestration and the crunch of full-on rock is particularly impressive. At 5.7m views, this cover of Led Zep's Kashmir is Epic Symphonic Rock's 2nd most popular video.
The symphonic medley of Iron Maiden's Fear of The Dark, The Number of The Beast and Run to The Hills is Epic Symphonic Rock's most popular video by some distance. An impressive feature of this performance is the way that the set builds. For Fear of The Dark the orchestra plays alone. It's haunting and melodic. It is only at the beginning of The Number of The Beast that the bass and guitar kick in to play the songs distinctive opening riff, but the orchestra still dominates. As the track builds (the transition to Run To The Hills is particularly impressive) the band becomes increasingly assertive and Tejada does some impressive shredding.
Projects like Epic Symphonic Rock build bridges. Young classical musicians are introduced to rock and metal, rock fans get to experience the power of a classical orchestra, and music fans who would not normally listen to metal might be tempted by Epic Symphonic Rock. For the latter group, a brief introduction to Iron Maiden is in order.
Iron Maiden is a British band founded in 1975. The band's third album, Number Of The Beast,1982, went to number one in the UK. It is now one of the most popular heavy metal albums (20m copies sold). Iron Maiden followed Number of the Beast with a string of strong albums and gained a reputation for excellent live shows. They are generally considered the most successful metal act of the 80s. Popular Iron Maiden tracks include Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982), The Trooper (1983), and Aces High (1984). Senjutsu was Rolling Stone's "Best Metal Album of 2021". Forty seven years after they were founded, the band is still touring.